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Madhu Verma on SoCh in Action: Social Change by Children

Madhu Verma is the brains and spirit behind SoCh in Action, a Singapore based non-profit that organises a yearly event to showcase the best social change initiatives by children between the ages of 9 and 14.  The event is just around the corner, with the ” Be the Change” Exposition to be held on Saturday, 12th November 2011, from 9:30 am to 1 pm at Level 4 of SCAPE, at 2 Orchard Link, Singapore.

We talk to Madhu to find out how it all started and about this year’s theme for the expo, “If Food Could Talk.

EWTT: What made you leave a corporate career to work on social change?

MV: We all can make a difference in society no matter where we work. I always had the inclination to work for the social sector but didn’t know how I could use my knowledge and experience there. While finishing my Masters in marketing, I did my research in Strategic alliances between the two sectors. I discovered that social sector could use many marketing strategies that corporates use all the time to be effective and widen their scope. That’s when I started working for Oxfam in New Zealand and implementing my corporate sector experience.

EWTT: When and how did the idea of SoCh come about?

MV: It was a persistent thought for a long time. People in general are aware of issues in the society around them or in the world. I feel ‘doing good’ is a human ‘need’ like any other ‘need’ to entertain, to travel, to wear new clothes. But the reason we see fewer people satisfying this need is because the avenues provided are either not easily available or engaging or not popularised in the ways other good and services are done.

Soch, in Hindi means thought

A ‘thought’ can be a powerful tool to bring about positive change in the world.  At SoCh in Action we provide avenues for such thoughts to translate into meaningful actions. ( SoCh in Action website)

SoCh is about providing interesting and engaging way to making positive social change and doing good. We have begun with children’s program because they are the most responsive audience. But we won’t stop there.

EWTT:  Could you describe the first SoCh exposition last year?

MV: It was fabulous! Seeing the passion in the eyes of the children was pure bliss. We had 26 school projects by children 9-14 years of age from various schools. From helping the elderly, climate refugee petitions, anti-littering to providing fresh water for Haiti ; small or big, simple or complex, the problems and their solutions were chosen by children themselves.

There were 10 workshop/activities that gave children the opportunity to have an experiential and truly ‘hands-on’ experience. This was a fun way to sensitise children and grown ups to various social and environmental issues. Amongst the activities were walking without shoes, making non-toxic cleaning solutions, green science, using trash to make fun stuff, a live story telling session and so on. It attracted lots of children, parents and teachers and they all had a good time.

Video link here

EWTT:  Why have you chosen food as a theme this year?

MV: Food shapes everyone’s lives in some way or the other.  But we seldom stop to think about it beyond its procurement and stop to see how it affects our health. Children are rarely taught about how issues related to food affect us, our community, people growing the food and the environment.

Easy access to food in urban day living gives our children limited know-how about food, how it is provided by nature, where is one’s food coming from, what’s in it, what’s wholesome, what’s natural,  how can the wasted food can be utilised, if food is scarce or abundant, various food related health issues and many more.  There are so many environmental, social and cultural issues connected to food that we thought it would be good to make it our theme this year. Children will not only find these topics interesting but they will inspire them to think more deeply and meaningfully about what they put into their mouths.

EWTT:  Tell us about the competition for this year’s theme.

MV: We wanted kids to think, “What if food could talk…what it would tell them about its journey?” So we have a small video that kids can watch where a chicken nugget is talking to our friend Leero. Kids can then imagine what their food tells them and send in their story, comments, or cartoons by 10th November 2011 to us at Contact[at]sochinaction.com . We will select 10 interesting entries at the event.

Video link here

There will be a lot of fun activities: a mini grocery store, for kids to play with worms, learn about food wastage, food additives and smart food.

EWTT:  How many schools do you expect to take part this year?

MV: Last year we had 14 schools, this year we have 30 schools so far taking part. You will be able to see more than 50 children’s project on various topic such as saying ‘no’ to shark fin soup, dealing with PSLE pressure, glaucoma and myopia awareness, vandalism in school, bringing, cheer to the elderly and food trays for the visually impaired, dealing with teen depression and so on. These are some of the issues that children have chosen to address.

We have received support from various organisations, so there is a growing recognition of the programs in Singapore and we are grateful to all our partners for that.

EWTT: What are your plans for SoCH’s future?

MV: We will continue to do our annual programs, Design for Change School Challenge and Be the Change Exposition and make it reach more children. Other programs that we are mulling over may take a few months to launch, on the lines of bringing the corporate and social sector closer.

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Please check the SoCh in action website and join the Facebook Page ‘SoCh in Action‘.  The event “Be the Change Exposition” is also on Facebook.

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Posted by on Oct 20 2011. Filed under Behaviour Change, Food/Meat Reduction, Green Action. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Madhu Verma on SoCh in Action: Social Change by Children”

  1. One Step Closer …

    SoCh in Action – “Be The Change” Exposition (Singapore), held on the 12th Of November’ 2011 was an eye-opener in more ways than one. It has empowered me to put in efforts and do my best to bring about positive change in the society. Most importantly, the participants of the event who happened to be children, have been a major source of inspiration for me.

    “Be The Change” exposition was indeed a transformative experience where in creativity and co-creation became stepping stones for innovation and positive social change. Having worked as a Volunteer behind the scene, I not only got a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the ‘larger than life’ event but also, to witness beautiful kids participate and present their projects with utmost enthusiasm. The whole experience of contributing towards organizing the event, being a part of it and seeing it through to completion, has struck a deep chord as I am more determined to get involved in projects which can bring about a change for the better.

    I loved it when kids called out to me and said “Would you like to have a look at our project” …and all I could say with a soulful smile is “Of course! I have all the time in the world for you and for the sake of the deeper purpose that you are here to serve”.

    Students showcased projects on topics such as – saying ‘no’ to Shark fin soup, dealing with Glaucoma and Myopia awareness, Vandalism in school, Respect and Care for the elderly, dealing with teen depression, working towards a cleaner and greener future, Getting rid of litter et al. That apart, there were various activities which caught everybody’s attention- Worm Composting, Talk on “Food Security”, “Healthy Smoothie” making Workshop, Display of Organic food, Information on micro-finance, Educational games followed by a breath-taking Parkour demonstration. All these activities made the event what it turned out to be – Extremely Successful and Truly Inspirational!

    In a nutshell, this event was a participatory, meaningful, creative and fun attempt to provoke and add value to lives. Indeed, it has been an extremely enriching experience which I would cherish for years to come. My awareness about Social Initiatives has gone up a few notches and voila! I am One Step Closer..! Closer to doing my bit for the society.

    - Navjot Nagi

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